If you’re looking for a guide on how to buy silver bars, you’re in the right place.
In this guide you're going to learn everything about buying physical silver as an investment...
... and since buying precious metals can be super risky with tons of scams out there, make sure to read through each section before you purchase silver bullion, coins, or bars!
How To Buy Silver Bars (Complete Guide)
If you're interested in learning how to buy silver bars, there are many factors to consider. In this guide you will learn what types of silver to purchase, where to purchase physical silver, what companies and mints to trust, how to store your silver, and how to avoid potential scams.
Let's start with why you should invest in silver...
Why Invest In Silver?
There's definitely been a surge in buying bullion as of late, which might prompt you to think consumer bullion demand is on the rise.
In truth, however, it has been a steady market for decades, and even centuries.
Your reasons for wanting to buy physical silver or other precious metals are probably one or more of the following:
- You want a tangible store of wealth and long term investment; you're aware that sovereign currencies are being debased by inflation and you'd like to invest in a "safe bet" that's going to hold its value for generations, and you might be interested in the upside.
- Maybe you just want a small percentage of your wealth in precious metals as part of a diversified portfolio.
These common reasons are behind pretty much every bullion purchase.
The amount of silver derivatives these days is truly astounding, and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up falling prey to scam.
Anyone familiar with the silver market can tell you that there's a lot of shady business going on and that the only silver you truly own is that which you can touch at your leisure, or stored in a reputable vault.
After reading this guide on buying silver, you should be able to avoid many of the pitfalls that bullion investors fall into and get your hand on some silver bars whose value is there to stay.
Storage Options For Silver Bars
The first thing any physical silver buyer has to decide before investing in bullion is where to store it.
We won't say it's the most important decision, but it's a contender.
You typically have two options:
Self-storage (home storage)
Third-party depository or vault.
Silver bars are cheaper and less valuable on a per-ounce basis than coins, as they are priced entirely on silver purity, premiums notwithstanding.
That means it becomes more difficult to store the more silver you're purchasing, limiting your storage options. In other words: a shoebox under the bed is probably out of the question.
Self Storage For Silver bars
On one side, we have self-storage for your physical precious metals.
The kind of self-storage you utilize varies greatly on the amount of silver you own.
If you're planning to buy silver bars in small amounts, a house safe can do the trick. Here, the quality of the safe and the security of your home will play a massive role.
In the absence of cash, the next best thing for a burglar are precious metals.
When we get into larger amounts of self-stored silver, you're going to need a vault of some kind. It can be a rented property, which obviously carries its own risks, or your own, which is better but considerably more expensive. And, again: big vault, big target.
This is why self-custody of large quantities of silver often necessitates stealth.
A beaten-up shed or something like that can be quite a deterrent. Partly because of silver's durability against the elements, you'd be amazed at how creative people get with this stuff - Burying in the backyard, walls, mattresses and all that.
If you have a vault or even a safe, though, you'll have to decide on whether you want insurance. No insurance, no paperwork, but that also means that missing silver can't be compensated for.
This is what gets many people opting for specialized facilities that provide all-encompassing storage solutions, not unlike a bank's safety-deposit box, though perhaps a bit more reliable.
Third Party Vault Storage
A lot of silver owners aren't fans of this because it makes them feel as if they don't "own" the silver they bought, and in a sense, it's true. To access your silver, you will be entirely reliant on the third-party storage facility you've chosen.
Because of this, picking the right custodian is paramount.
There's a lot of specialists, so you won't be strapped for choice, and a little scouring through reviews should come up with good candidates. In general, if you can get a vault near your place of residence, all the better.
As you'd expect, any top-notch bullion storage facility is going to offer a similar suite of benefits...
Extremely tight security, whether your silver is static or in transport
An insurance policy that's going to cover all of your silver in case there's a mishap with the facility
Oftentimes, the option to trade your silver over the counter with minimal hassle
Of course, you'll need to look into the costs of the individual vault storage provider and see how they match up with your budget.
Over time, this can add up. Likewise, if you grow dissatisfied with the storage provider at some point, moving the silver can prove cumbersome.
Choosing Your Silver Bar Weight And Type
Because standard silver coins are usually in a 1oz denomination, newcomers to the market might be surprised that there are one-ounce silver bars, too.
Indeed, silver bars range from 1 to 1,000 ounces, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and popular designs. Yes, 1,000 oz silver bars exist, but they're almost exclusively used by large financial institutions. But if you don't mind a bit of lifting...
In reality, your choices of pure silver bar sizes and weight will probably range between 1 to 100 ounces.
Smaller bars have a larger premium, which we'll expand upon later.
In the eyes of the producer, a one-ounce bar is mostly the same as a 100-ounce one. But in the eyes of the retailer, which has to sell 100 products as opposed to one, not so much.
It's also worth noting that one-ounce bars, and certainly those weighing less, are considerably less durable than their bulkier counterparts.
We'd venture to say that the silver bars you're going to buy are probably going to be in the 10-ounce to 100-ounce range. Easy to buy, sell and store. The choice then moves to your initial investment capital, as well as subsequent additions. If you're self-storing, it's a lot tidier to have bars that are of the same weight, but far from a necessity either way.
With the spot price of silver going for $25 these days (as of April, 2022), most investors will find a 10-ounce pure silver bar affordable.
Those looking for the most capital on a bar basis should still find the 100-ounce bar sufficient and just around the "easy-to-move" limit with a 6.25 pound weight.
On the off chance that you are interested in higher weight bars, between 100 and 1,000 ounces, know that to sell them will almost certainly require an assay.
Partly because of the weight and partly because such large bars are less commonly minted, those who want to buy silver bars of a larger size will also want a fairly stringent examination of the bar.
This is done by an independent specialist and represents an additional expense.
Where To Buy Silver Bars: Mints, Brands And Quality
If you're wondering where to buy silver bars, keep reading, we've laid out all the important details for you in the next few sections.
Unsurprisingly, the source of the silver bar is one of the most important considerations.
There are a few generally understood rules when it comes to buying silver bullion bars, and one is that top sovereign and private mints (government mints) can be trusted.
So let's say you are buying bars made by...
- U.S. Mint
- Royal Canadian Mint
- Australia's Perth Mint
- U.K.'s Royal Mint
- Swiss-based PAMP Suisse
- Swiss-based Valcambi
- Other top private refiners like Asahi / Johnson Matthey, Scottsdale Mint, Sunshine Mint, Geiger Edelmetalle, Engelhard, Heraeus and SilverTowne
You'll know you're getting top-quality silver bars.
When you’re buying silver bars produced from a reputable source (for example, the Royal Canadian Mint) the bars will have weight and silver content stamped on it, along with the purity which will be .999 and upwards.
You’ll also have information about the refinery it was made in and each silver bar will have its own serial number.
If you're buying silver bars or gold bars from a retailer, it will probably come sealed inside a package.
If it's outside the package, it should be weighed to see that it hasn't been damaged and that some of the silver content hasn't been chipped off.
There is a fair bit of preference among buyers when it comes to mints, more than you'd probably assume. Some almost treat them like coins. But if you're buying silver bars for long term investing purposes, this probably doesn't concern you that much.
There are exceptions, of course. Take the Valcambi CombiBar, for example, a unique product in the form of a 100-gram silver bar that can be split off into 100 1-gram pieces.
Popular silver bar designs like these are why you might want to do your research into individual bar types as opposed to just going for the first top seller that looks good.
This section, naturally, covers just the refineries themselves. They ship to retailers, and here is where due diligence truly comes into play.
Silver Bullion Retailers and Precious Metals IRA eligibility
There are many reputable gold and silver bullion sellers in the U.S. There are also less-than-ideal ones.
If you want to invest in silver and buy it yourself, you should begin your journey with thorough research into who you're buying it from.
- Does the silver or gold dealer have negative reviews?
- Are they real, or is the competition trying to bring them down?
- Have they been around for a long time?
- What are their shipping options and insurance policies?
- What are their fees, pricing, and payment methods? Do they offer low premiums, or high markup?
Many more questions like this should be your starting point.
By all means, purchase silver bars, but perform your due diligence first.
While there are a few huge bullion dealers that seem to overshadow the competition based on reputation, it's not at all the case that smaller ones can't meet or exceed your expectations.
So long as the company is good, the size or the number of customers they have is less important. This is all the more true since bullion buying can often be a question of inventory, and in times of high demand, you might find yourself searching far and wide.
Buying Silver in a Silver IRA Account
IRA dealers, and IRA-eligible bars, are another thing to consider.
Because silver bars are very popular precious metal IRA investments, there are dealers across the U.S. that specialize exclusively in setting up these gold IRA accounts. When working with these companies, you'll tend to be treated with more customer service as opposed to a "bullion shop."
Silver investors should note that not all silver bars are eligible for purchase within an IRA.
If your goal is to purchase silver bars for inclusion in your tax-deferred retirement account, you should first verify that your choice of silver bars are allowed.
If you want to buy silver bars or silver coins with your IRA or 401(k), you may want to contact one of these gold IRA specialists.
Some options include:
- Advantage Gold
- Augusta Precious Metals
- Birch Gold Group
- Goldco Precious Metals
A company that specializes in gold and silver IRAs can readily guide you through the precious metal buying process and ensure that you select gold or silver bars and coins that are IRS-approved for inclusion in your retirement account.
Recommended Silver IRA Providers
With the companies below, you can buy physical silver and store it in an IRA.
We've personally reviewed each of these companies, and they all get high marks.
# 1 - Augusta Precious Metals (Most Trusted)
Augusta Precious Metals is our top gold IRA company recommendation. They have a great reputation, are great for high networth individuals, and have been around since 2012. They are almost completely focused on precious metals as their name suggests. Augusta Precious Metals is extremely well rated by both the Better Business Bureau as well as the Business Consumer Alliance.
# 2 - Birch Gold Group (Best Choice For New Investors)
Birch Gold Group is a company with almost two decades of history. They’re gold IRA specialists with a great reputation that charges low fees and has an excellent as well as easy buyback program. Birch Gold Group is recommended for new investors since they’re easy and efficient to work with, have low fees and you can start a gold IRA with them for as low as $10,000.
# 3 - American Hartford Gold (Best Customer Service)
American Hartford Gold is easily one of the most trustworthy gold IRA dealers, with near pristine ratings and reviews online, great product inventory, and super a super helpful team with great customer service. It's obvious they care about their customers. On the other hand, if you're looking for platinum or palladium, you're out of luck. We gave AHG 5 out of 5 stars.
# 4 - Advantage Gold (Best For IRA Rollovers)
Advantage Gold is a relatively young company that’s been in business since 2014 and an awesome gold IRA company to work with for a rollover. They specialize in converting eligible accounts into precious metals IRAs and deal with both precious metals IRAs as well as cash sales of precious metals.
# 5 - Gold Alliance (Focus on Retirement Investing)
Gold Alliance is one of the oldest companies in the gold IRA sector that we've come across. With a dedicated focus to retirement gold investing, you're in good hands if you're looking to open a gold IRA with Gold Alliance, however, we recommend looking elsewhere if you want to invest in gold outside of an IRA.
Premiums, Bargains And Volatility
There is a fair bit of disconnection between the spot silver price and the price of the bullion you're buying.
You can almost universally expect to buy silver bars at a higher price than the overall silver content they have.
This is what's called a premium, and it's an industry standard.
Your goal should be to minimize the difference between the spot price of silver and the checkout price, or in other words, purchase with the lowest premium possible. But there shouldn't be a compromise in either the bar quality or the vendor.
You've probably noticed that the precious metals market is fairly volatile.
Silver is particularly volatile among precious metals. Precious metals are bought because they slowly appreciate in value. Yet on a year-to-year basis, you might see oscillations of 10% or even more.
Here is where you might want to time the market, or "buy the dip" and purchase silver when it's comparatively low over recent years as opposed to just having hit a multi-year high.
When it comes to physical silver, this is far easier said than done, and buying high shouldn't dissuade you. If and when you do end up selling that bullion, you'll almost certainly get the same or higher price for it.
Where To Buy Silver Bars Locally (Scams, Cons, & Staying Safe)
Things can get a bit hectic on the bullion market. Inventories can be emptied. Buyers can be impatient.
So there's lots of second-hand buying, or rather, buying silver bars locally.
Here's where caution needs to be exercised, because precious metals and silver scams are rampant.
If you're wondering where to buy silver bars locally, first: buyer beware and be cautious! Scams are rampant for precious metals in local markets.
On the secondary market, there's everything from low-purity bars to bars that have a thin layer of silver on top and are regular metal underneath.
These can be sold for bargain prices, but they can also sport the full price, so the price tag isn't an indicator.
You'll hear that sealed 1-100 ounces don't need an assay, but snake oil salesmen are always within arm's reach.
If you're buying any significant amount of silver bullion from another person, pay a little extra to have it assayed and have peace of mind.
We'd all like to live in a perfect world where you get what you paid for without double-checking, but we don't.
That's not to say second-hand buying of silver bullion is bad or should be avoided. Just the opposite. You might find yourself selling a large amount of bullion to a person someday.
When you have silver bars for sale, you'll have no issue with a buyer assaying it to make sure it's good. This is because you yourself took precautions to make sure your silver bullion coins and bars are top-notch.
Conclusion - Should You Buy Silver Bars Yourself?
We hope this guide on buying silver bars was helpful!
- Silver bullion can be a great long term investment
- Make sure to vet your gold or silver dealer extensively
- Make sure you know the ins-and-outs of buying and storing physical silver bars
- Buy during dips in the spot price (or DCA)
- Be careful if you’re buying from the secondary market
Our recommended precious metals dealer and IRA provider is Augusta Precious Metals.
Grab their free detailed guide on Silver IRAs here.